The story about eco-friendly transportation currently has two major actors: the more popular electric vehicles running on batteries and the less known but supposedly more efficient fuel-cell vehicles based on hydrogen.
Although much publicity has been displayed for battery-powered EVs, some important automakers like Honda, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz are set on bringing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in front of the public by 2015. In the meantime, Toyota opens a one-of-a-kind hydrogen-fueling station in Southern California.
The reason why it is so “one-of-a-kind” is that the Shell public station in Torrance receives its hydrogen supply through a pipeline, unlike other stations in the country, that have theirs brought by truck. The station’s performances include filling up of 4 vehicles at the same time before the clock strikes 5 minutes and the ability to distribute a maximum of 100 kg of hydrogen in 12 hours. To get the picture, a Mercedes-Benz F-Cell needs 4 kg of hydrogen, while a Honda FCX Clarity needs 3.92 kg.
The hydrogen sources will be the Air Products plants in Wilmington and Carson, which already supply to a few industrial sites, like the Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance.
This is all part of the automakers’ bigger plan to implement a viable infrastructure for the mass usage of hydrogen. According to Toyota, the manufacturing of fuel-cell vehicles must go hand in hand with the creation of an easy-to-access infrastructure, otherwise the whole project would be a failure.
So, everybody hopes this station will act as an example that will encourage drivers to use their (for the moment, leased) hydrogen cars: “This site will be a model to learn and expand pipeline-fed stations as opportunities arise,” says David J. Taylor, Vice President of energy business at Air Products.
Now that Toyota has operated massive “discounts” on its fuel-cell vehicles, making them cost about $50,000, and hydrogen stations will start popping up all over the place, all you have to do is make up your mind whether you’ll buy an EV or a fuel-cell one, isn’t it?